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Fortresses secure Unesco approval

Thirteen sites built by master military architect Vauban are given World Heritage Status.

A group of fortresses built by master designer Vauban have been given World Heritage Status by Unesco.

Thirteen fortresses along the western and northern and eastern borders of France have been chosen by the institution which said they “represent the finest examples of the work of Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban.”

Known as Vauban, the military builder designed around 300 forts and fortified towns across France during his life (1633-1707).

It is said he traveled 180,000km around the country after he was appointed Marshall of France by Louis IV.

Their principle characteristics of his buildings are their sharp angular design which Vauban gradually developed via his experience of military sieges from both inside and out.

On several occasions during his military career he found himself taking back fortresses he had designed himself.

The sites on the Unesco list include towns built from scratch by Vauban, citadels built on plains, urban bastion walls, bastion towers and a residence. There are also mountain forts, sea forts, a mountain battery and two mountain communication structures.

Vauban, described by 18th Century biographer Louis de Rouvroy as “Perhaps the most honest and virtous man of his century” fell out of favour with the royal court after his proposal to levy a flat rate of tax on all people in France.

For more information on Vauban and his work visit

Other Unesco sites in France:
1979 Mont-Saint-Michel, Versailles, Vézelay, Vézère caves
1981 Fontainebleau, Amiens Cathedral, Fontenay Abbey, Orange, Arles
1982 Arc-et-Senans
1983 Place Stanislas in Nancy, the Eglise de Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe, caps de Girolata et de Porto and the natural reserve of Scandola, the calanches of Piana in Corsica.
1985 Pont du Gard
1988 The grande ile of Strasbourg
1991 Paris, the banks of the Seine, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Saint-Remi Abbey and Tau Palace in Reims.
1992 Bourges Cathdral
1995 Avignon
1996 Canal du Midi
1997 Carcassonne, Mont-Perdu
1998 The chemins of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle, Lyon
1999 Saint-Emilion and surroundings
2000 The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes
2001 Fortified medieval village of Provins
2005 Areas of Le Havre rebuilt by Auguste Perret
2007 Bordeaux, port de la Lune

Photo: Vauban's Fort Carrée in Antibes
Courtesy of the Office du Tourisme Antibes Juan Les Pins

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